Pertinent, but possibly not current.
I suppose that I should point out that I did do a little personal ritual last night. As described in a friend’s post, I asked Loki to come to me in whatever face that He chose.
I promised that I wouldn’t question it, and I promised that I wouldn’t dispute it, so here I am on what was delivered.
I have been told that I am with-holding. I am told that I refuse to be generous.
I find the most profound insult in being labeled selfish, in being considered self-centered.
I don’t like to be selfish, and I balk at being called self-centered, but sometimes I am.
Madness is a kind of selfishness. Madness has a certain air of self-centeredness.
Or at least, it does for me.
I went insane in 1997. I think that I may have always been, but I received a diagnosis of Bipolar Axis I – later changed to Bipolar Axis II – in 1997. The axis never mattered to me because what followed that diagnosis was an intense 3 years of self-examination in my life, broken into 50 minute hours that occurred three, sometimes four times a week.
And I hated every minute of it. Therapy felt like a terrifying exposure in front of a stranger -an educated stranger whom I was paying to stand emotionally naked in front of – a session with an inquisitor for no reason but to punish and perpetuate the theory that I needed to learn how to fit in with a world that I didn’t fit into, that I never fit into. I had to learn how to deal with others, but mostly, it felt like I was learning to sublimate myself.
It’s funny when I consider that I felt more feeling in my madness than I did in the 26 years that I had lived up to that point.
I suppose that I would have been considered mad as a child too, always being told how strange I was, how bad I was, how I had failed to be what was expected. There was definitely a disorder to my life, to my thinking – even if no one was calling it bipolar back then – that’s what I felt was reality. My struggle arose out of this desire to not be ‘disordered’, to not be separate.
To this day, I still feel separate. It is still a struggle at times to convince myself that if I am myself, if I show others who I really am, I can still be loved.
I’ve no doubt that my husband thinks that I am mad, crazy, out of my mind. But I believe that there are concessions that he’s willing to make until he gets tired of making them. But, to take a page from my madness, it is likely me who will tire of making concessions first. When we get tired of making concessions for each other, we’ve told each other, we have promised to move along. We have promised to separate.
But I am nothing if not determined. Some would call that loyal.
I know that we will separate someday. I know that I will be alone.
Because we live as we die – alone.
It is interesting to consider that concept now that I’ve written it there. Did I ever believe that? Do I believe that now?
Because, even as a child, I felt that no one should be alone in death. I used to wander around the most decrepit sections of New England cemeteries, inwardly noting dates and reading the names of those longest dead. Sometimes I would simply recite their names aloud, but mostly, I would whisper greetings to them, because it hurt me to think that they may have been forgotten. As far back as I can recall, I thought it the worst of all to be a person that had been forgotten, who had been ignored, simply because time had passed.
While it might be hardly surprising that I am estranged from my family today, I imagine that it could also be perhaps that I was a little girl that was feeling somewhat forgotten, possibly even ignored by those who claimed to love me, albeit often dysfunctionally.
I have trust issues. I have abandonment issues. And the madness that grows from the pit of my soul was screaming to be seen:
See me! Hear me! My emotions were a whirlwind, a storm that had been brewing for a long, long time. My anger was a beast in chains that was demanding for release. This is why the story of Fenrir appealed to that part of me.
There was nothing wrong with Fenrir; He is what He is. There isn’t any shame in what He represents. He is Madness. He is emotion unchecked, hunger unfulfilled, the forces of Nature out of control. He is Nature itself, the nature of all that we attempt to control.
I won’t say I know how you feel (or felt, as you wrote that this post may not be so current regarding how you feel). Instead, I will say that I understand bipolar disorder, and that I feel for the struggle and torment life can be when that diagnosis becomes a part of life. I struggled through the end of my teenage years and through my 20’s and on into my early 30’s before the diagnosis was handed to me – bipolar I, ultra-rapid cycling with psychotic features (hallucinations), and PTSD tacked on for good measure. I spent years in therapy and on medications of all sorts – two therapists outright refused to treat me unless I agreed to have myself hospitalized (they said for safety reasons – they sensed they were in the presence of someone with a lot of rage), which I never allowed to happen. As far as I know, I am one of the relative few who has managed to break free from it all; and I know my status in that regard is controversial.
I fully agree with your comparison to the cage and Fenrir. Although my last therapist compared me often to a wolf who had been caged too long, the comparison to Fenrir didn’t occur to me until I read it here; but it is a very appropriate comparison. My own take on it may have still been somewhat related, though, in that I eventually saw it as a mind-fetter from Odin (thus my task was to find my way out of my fetters).
Is someone with mental illness / injury going to be selfish from time to time? I would not only say ‘yes;’ but would add that without this, a person stands little chance of recovery or management. One needs to focus on their own self for numerous reasons: the answers you seek, for starters, are invariably tucked away somewhere inside your mind; then there is the need to filter the outside world out in order to keep up with the racing whirlwinds of thoughts that are par for the course, especially with bipolar disorder. The alternative, being 100% selfless, is not only unrealistic for ‘healthy’ people, it also brings with it the expectation that we submit ourselves to the will and whims of society and its army of often-bickering experts. Becoming an automaton is not a path toward recovery or good health – it breaks the spirit. Sometimes, we hold back because not doing so, unleashing the beast so to speak, would hurt the people around us. I did it, and I’m sure a lot of others do it as well: sometimes when we hold back, we are turning an unbelievable amount of aggressive energy back in on our own selves. This is a sacrifice that some of us feel like we need to make – and the inevitable criticism from the ones we try to protect by doing so is part of the burden of that sacrifice; and it is a burden that they will likely never fully understand or appreciate. At the same time, though, like venting steam from a locomotive engine, we need to open up a little and allow those close to us feel like they are able to help us. I have also experienced this from the ‘other’ side: there is nothing more frustrating for a so-called healthy partner in a relationship than to be willing to make their own sacrifice to help someone they love, only to be shut out time and again. It makes people feel useless; and locks them into the same untenable position we often feel we are in: having to suffer agony and be helpless to do a thing about it. To expect that from a loving partner would be to subject that partner to Sigyn’s fate – although at least Sigyn can tell that she brings some relief to her loved one. If we continuously shut out those who love us, we cross a line that they can’t cross with us.
I hope you and your husband make it through. I would be happy to find myself in contact with someone else who found their way through the fetters and to a genuine freedom of mind and spirit. If there is anything you think I could help with, I’m an e-mail away.